Program

Sep 06, 2011

OVERVIEW

Going for
the Goal (GOAL) is a school-based life-skills program for at-risk, urban middle
school students that focuses on setting positive and reachable goals,
anticipating and responding to obstacles, using social support, and building on
one’s strengths. The program uses ten workshops where high school students teach
middle school students goal-setting, problem-solving, and accessing social
support. An experimental evaluation found the program had a positive impact on
knowledge of goal-setting skills and on goal attainment, but there was no
lasting impact on sense of personal control.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target
population:

At-risk,
urban middle school students

GOAL is
designed to promote students’ positive mental health through teaching
life-skills and emphasizing social competence and efficacy. Specifically,
adolescents are taught how to set goals, problem solve, and access social
support. The program takes a positive approach, telling adolescents what they
should do, rather than what they should not do. Ten weekly workshops are led by
high school students using a manual. Student leaders are trained at a two-day
retreat prior to implementation. The first workshop encourages participants to
“dream” and identify those dreams. The second focuses on how to convert dreams
into goals that are under the participants’ control. The third workshop involves
setting realistic goals that the adolescents can reach during the course of the
program. The fourth workshop presents the concept of a “goal ladder,” which
depicts taking steps to reach a goal. In the fifth session the adolescents
discuss obstacles to attaining goals, and in the sixth session the leaders teach
a strategy for dealing with obstacles. The seventh session stresses the
importance of asking for help. The eighth session focuses on rebounding from
obstacles and thinking of alternative strategies. In the ninth session
adolescents identify strengths and learn how to apply them to achieving their
goals. The tenth session consists of a wrap-up of the program, including
discussion of how the participants applied what they learned to achieve goals in
their lives.

EVALUATION
OF PROGRAM

O’Hearn,
T.C., & Gatz, M. (1999). Evaluating a psychosocial competence program for urban
adolescents. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 20,119-144.

Evaluated
population: 
A total of 350 seventh-grade students from two middle schools were evaluated.
The middle schools were located in an urban community near downtown Los Angeles,
in a district where 50 percent of the students come from families below the
poverty level. The sample was 92 percent Latino, 7 percent Asian, and 1 percent
Caucasian. The sample was 56 percent male and 44 percent female.

Approach:
Classrooms
were randomly assigned to the intervention or a waitlist control group. Data
were collected at pre-test and post-test on knowledge of goal-setting skills,
sense of personal control, and goal attainment. Only the experimental group
completed the measure of goal attainment. The measures of knowledge of
goal-setting skills and sense of personal control were also measured at
follow-up approximately 10 weeks after the post-test, but the experimental and
control groups could not be compared at follow-up, because the control group had
already received the intervention at that point. There was no difference at
baseline between the experimental and control groups on knowledge of goal-
setting skills or sense of personal control.

Results:
There was
a positive impact on knowledge of goal-setting skills, with the experimental
group improving significantly more than the control group. There was no program
impact on sense of personal control, although both groups improved between
baseline and post-test. There was a significant improvement in goal attainment
for the experimental group, but this could not be compared with the control
group since the control group did not complete the measure. Analysis of data for
the experimental group from baseline through follow-up indicated that
participants significantly improved on knowledge of goal setting skills from
baseline to post-test and maintained those gains through follow-up. The
experimental group also increased their sense of personal control between
baseline and post-test, but this change was partially reversed and was no longer
significant by follow-up.

SOURCES
FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

O’Hearn,
T.C., & Gatz, M. (1999). Evaluating a psychosocial competence program for urban
adolescents. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 20,119-144.

Website:

http://www.lifeskills.vcu.edu/goal.html

Contact
Information

Life
Skills Center

800 W.
Franklin Street

Richmond,
VA 23284

lifeskills@vcu.edu

1-888-572-1572

KEYWORDS:
Adolescents (12-17), Middle School, Males and Females, High-Risk,
Hispanic/Latino, Urban, School-based, Manual, Skills Training, Social
Skills/Life Skills, Other Social/Emotional Health

Program
information last updated on 9/6/11.